Modern low-code platforms reduce or eliminate risks by democratizing development and smoothing out disconnects between business needs and technology deliverables. When properly designed, a comprehensive low-code strategy produces an exceptional return on investment.
Enterprise software complexity and requirements are increasing at an alarming pace. Organizations can respond to this trend by leveraging the power of modern low-code application platforms (LCAPs). These combine intelligent data mapping, process automation, integration, and advanced user interface capabilities into a development platform that provides exponential improvement in business value delivered.
Low-code platforms help both experienced and beginning developers iterate faster on new concepts, reducing the time it takes to go from a business need to a functional production-worthy system. They promote greater reuse of code, faster integration of proven software components, and are designed to scale automatically to meet business needs. With out-of-the-box support for today’s user experiences on a wide range of mobile devices and the ability to incorporate cloud, on-premises, and remote data sources, they simplify rollout across today’s distributed and frequently remote workforce.
Evolving Beyond Custom Code
Historically, custom-code development was a product of necessity. But the custom-code methodology also created significant risks and roadblocks of its own. Translating business needs into tangible applications was a difficult and awkward process. Custom code could take months or even years to reach a usable state, by which time the business needs frequently changed. In a modern environment, the speed to change is becoming a driving factor in meeting rapidly evolving business needs.
Today’s LCAPs build upon the work of those earlier generations of software component libraries and webservices while leveraging current higher-performance infrastructures and devices to their best advantage. With a wide range of commercial, purpose-built components now available on a variety of platforms, including ServiceNow, Salesforce, Appian, and Microsoft Power Platform, the vast majority of business needs can be met in a low-code environment.
Low-code does not mean low power or low potential. By reducing barriers to participation and collaboration, low-code products can be shared among larger and more fluid teams, meaning that low-code products can be more easily maintained, and for longer, than their custom-code predecessors. Built-in system integration makes it easier to evolve low-code products with changing business needs and platform capabilities. Leveraging a proven LCAP reduces downtime as well, even while replacing legacy systems.
The value of low-code is maximized when coupled with agile processes, human factors change management, and seasoned software architect/engineers to guide you throughout the entire project lifecycle. This expertise not only maximizes your long-term return on investment by minimizing rework, but also ensures that system flexibility, quality, security, scalability and portability. By establishing conventions and guardrails at the onset of the project select enhancements and configuration, changes are easily conducted by less technical subject matter expert citizen developers.
Emphasizing low-code development delivers value in several areas of interest to business leaders:
Low-code applications closely align with existing business processes. Because applications are hosted in the business process platform, they closely conform with the rules, conventions, and interfaces your users already understand.
Faster time to value. With a wide range of prebuilt components as well as a deep bench of contributors who can master low-code development principles, a wide range of business needs can be comprehensively met.
Workflow automation is included by default. All of the business logic, workflow, and approval requirements described in your enterprise platform of choice are easily incorporated in a low-code application. Modern low-code apps can support sequential, parallel, and hierarchical workflows, and typically incorporate robotic process automation when needed as well.
Value of data is unlocked. Low-code platforms provide easy visualization of complex data sets providing actionable insights. This makes the creation of new data-driven processes, as well as dashboards and analytical insights, easier than ever.
Low-code is native to today’s distributed enterprise. The same platforms that enable low-code development are the ones at the heart of the distributed enterprise movement, which gives a widely dispersed and highly mobile workforce access to data and resources at speeds unthinkable outside of the office just a few years ago.
Feedback is streamlined and immediate. The slow pace and “waterfall” or “big-bang” delivery style of most custom applications make it difficult to incorporate feedback and adjust an application’s design on the fly. Low-code environments encourage rapid prototyping and make changes much easier to describe and realize.
While these platforms drastically simplify the process of building custom applications, software engineering and architecture are vital to avoid pitfalls that can be difficult to remedy in the future. Partnering with Guidehouse professionals to implement, extend, or customize your low-code platforms can pay multiple dividends. Investments in low-code platforms are frequently underutilized without a strong application architecture, which our experts can provide.
Guidehouse can also help identify the highest-value opportunities for migrating from custom-code to low-code development, and make sure that the transition is a smooth one. We cut through vendor hype and present the realities. Our enterprise integration practice can ensure that the implementation of a new low-code platform, if necessary, is seamless. And our workflow development and human centered design practices help ensure that the solutions your low-code teams create are as user friendly as they are efficient and powerful.
Getting the maximum business value from a low-code platform investment requires comprehensive guidance. Guidehouse’s low-code practice groups are versed in all of the major platforms, and stand ready to help organizations of all sizes and sophistications on the path to accelerated business value.
This article was co-authored by Poornachandra Aithal, Jerry Eshbaugh, and Eli Goberstein.
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